Stress is a risk factor not to be underestimated by people who are chronically ill.
In a stressful situation, the body releases stress hormones. In individual cases, this is not a problem. The body is prepared in case of stress that it has to escape or fight – that was the normal response to stress at the beginning of human development. These days, running or attacking is usually not what we do when we experience stress. This can be a problem for patients with chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, asthma and COPD. Symptoms are heightened, secondary diseases can be promoted and last but not least, if stressed, one can pay less attention to his or her health.
This is about the stress, which is only partially self-made. It’s about environmental stress: stop and go on the highway, noise in the big city, unfriendly people, etc. in other words, the everyday madness.
Everybody reacts differently to all these things. Some people quickly get upset in situations like this. If you are one of them, and if you already have a chronic condition, you should definitely try to respond to your environment more softly. Tell yourself that you cannot change anything at that moment anyway. Think about how long your anxiety usually lasts in such cases. Usually, the unpleasant feeling is over after a short time. So do something good for your health and consciously try to take a few deep breaths in stressful situations. Think of something beautiful and try to realize that the problem will be over in the foreseeable future. Make sure you choose a method to calm down. Breathing, a short break, listening to music – whatever. If you make this method a ritual, your body will soon be conditioned to calm down with it. And: It costs you a lot less power if you keep calm. It is important for your health that you become more relaxed.
After getting breast cancer, after the end of my therapy, I deliberately dealt with such things. I know that in the future, my health will depend, among other things, on me living a healthy life – and that also means avoiding unnecessary long-term stress. I am amazed at how easy it is for me to put away all of this environmental stress. One reason is for sure that a cancer diagnosis is such a drastic experience that many others fade against it. I cannot take the everyday excitement of most people seriously anymore. But even if I realize that I am in a hurry for something, I deliberately calm myself down immediately.
My health comes first for me at the moment. And suddenly it’s easy to refrain from getting more upset.
Stress at the airport, in big cities and on inevitable occasions like moving house? Of course I still have these occasions. But I will not let them affect me. I plan ahead. A longer business trip? Yes, but after that and before that I only have one week in the office, so I do not overload myself. Moving house? Yes I’ve got that too. But now I let others do more than before and do not always want to control everything. When I visit my daughter in Milan – very stressful city – then I enjoy the hustle and bustle, but don’t stay longer than 2 days, otherwise the noise eats me up.
So, in summary, there are two things that can save us here: developing rituals to calm down when you get angry and plan ahead, so that stress does not take control of us, but we retain control of the stress.
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